Tag Archive: Technology

Revisiting the Human-Machine Symbiosis

“The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today.”
J. C. R. Licklider, “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” 1960

Fifty-six years ago, J. C. R. Licklider outlined a prescient vision for computing machines coupled with human brains and, together, thinking thoughts previously unattainable by human beings thinking on their own. This vision influenced a generation of scientists and engineers and is largely the basis for our experience of computing today. Yet, I don’t feel a partnership with my current machines, and I often find myself bending my brain, and subjugating my will, to adapt to them. Shouldn’t it be vice versa? Did I miss the symbiosis?